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Kansas: Sebelius Move Leaves Big Hole in Senate Race

With Gov. Kathleen Sebelius (D) headed to the Obama administration to become Health and Human Services secretary, Sunflower State Democrats will have to go back to the drawing board to find a Senate candidate for the 2010 open-seat race. President Barack Obama announced Sebelius’ nomination Monday — effectively taking her out of the 2010 race where she would have been the instant frontrunner had she decided to run.

Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) is retiring in 2010 and is expected to run for governor. Reps. Jerry Moran and Todd Tiahrt have already announced their respective campaigns and are expected to battle for the GOP Senate nod.

Sebelius was seen as Democrats’ best hope to take the seat, and her move to Obama’s Cabinet — pending a confirmation vote — leaves Democrats searching for a candidate.

Lt. Gov. Mark Parkinson (D), who is a former Republican and is set to succeed Sebelius as governor, could run for the seat. Whomever Parkinson appoints to be his successor as lieutenant governor could also run statewide in 2010, as well as Sebelius’ most recent appointment to statewide office: state Treasurer Dennis McKinney, who was a former Democratic floor leader in the state House. McKinney replaced Lynn Jenkins (R), who was elected to the House last year.

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